$9.6bn Judgement Debt: Former Petroleum Ministry Director Arraigned, Remanded in Prison Custody


Alex Enumah in Abuja

A former Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, was on Friday arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory over her alleged involvement in the signing of the controversial gas supply contract between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and an Irish firm, Processes and Industrial Development (P&ID).

Her arraignment is coming barely 24 hours after the conviction of the P&ID by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Abuja on economic sabotage, money laundering and tax evasion amongst others.

Mrs Taiga was arraigned on an eight count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and gratification among others.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the charge, specifically accused Mrs Taiga of signing the said agreement without obtaining approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as required by law.

She pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Following her not guilty plea, counsel to the EFCC, Bala Sanga, asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending the commencement of trial.

Sanga, in addition asked for an adjournment to enable the prosecution call its witnesses to prove the charge against the defendant.

However attempt by her lawyer, Ola Olanipekun SAN, to move an oral application for her bail was turned down by the court.

Similar request that the defendant be remanded in EFCC custody was rejected following objection by the EFCC counsel.

The trial judge, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, accordingly ordered that she be remanded in Suleja prison pending the hearing and determination of the bail application.

Olanipekun had pleaded that the oral application for bail be taken on account of the failing health of Mrs Taiga.

The defendant was said to be suffering from multiple health conditions including, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney diseases among others.

Mrs Taiga whom according to her lawyer had been in the sick Bay of the EFCC was said to have collapsed on her way to court for Friday’s arraignment.

The matter has been adjourned till September 25 for the hearing of her bail application.

Details later.